Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders and members held a series of meetings in the southern Russian city of Sochi in April 2021. Guest speakers for the meetings were Alexander and Tatiana Sakharov, youth ministries and children’s ministries directors, respectively, in the Caucasian Union Mission.
According to organizers, the meetings were “an opportunity to launch positive changes in the lives of young people and couples” in that important resort city and former Olympics site along the Black Sea.
Local church members took preparations for the April event very seriously. It was something, leaders believe, that helped bring the members of the local church together. “Members acted as one team; they became closer to each other as they worked together to achieve the same goal,” they said. Leaders also shared that church members distributed invitations in advance and prayed fervently before and during the meetings.
A program on weekend evenings geared to teens and young adults was called “Crossroads.” Led by the Sakharovs, young people had the opportunity to discuss topics such as individual identity, finding one’s way in life, and young people’s relation to the church, among others. “Meetings were held in a pleasant and cozy atmosphere, as they sat around tables that favored meaningful discussions,” organizers said.
Daily programs were divided into two parts. In the first part of the program, Tatiana presented to attendees about family relationships, dealing with one’s spouse, and issues in childrearing, among others. People attending said they valued that she shared information mainly in the form of concrete and practical steps. “She did not speak only from a psychological point of view but also shared experiences as a wife and mother,” they said.
Then, after the family topics discussions, Alexander shared biblical truths. People attending were invited to discuss how to achieve success, how to avoid a breakdown, and how to set goals and achieve them. He led the discussions by reviewing the stories of Bible characters who are examples of courage, determination, and strength.
At the end of the meetings, more than a dozen people requested Bible studies, and more than 50 answered a call to work on changing at least one aspect of their lives.
Sochi Adventist church organizers said they were thankful because every member contributed to the success of the initiative. “This includes the pastor,Anatoly Uzun, the women who took care of the tables, the audiovisual team, the musicians, the deacons, the prayer leaders, and the youth who helped as well. Every one of them supported the congregation’s common cause; the work of each was important and valuable,” they said.
Local church leaders also emphasized how encouraged they were to see new faces at the meetings and how important it was to sow seeds that God will now help to grow. “Having lived through this experience, the Sochi community once again became convinced that we must not be afraid to talk about God, because people need it!” they said.